Halloween Streaming Season (Pt. 3)

My recommendations for horror movies to stream continue this week with my top picks for Hulu. This year, the service even has a special section entitled Huluween, where you can find plenty of horror genre staples like Hellraiser, Saw, A Quiet Place, Child’s Play, and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” However, per usual, I’m going to recommend some lesser-known content.

Little Monsters (Directed by Abe Forsythe): I have no doubt that this film and One Cut of the Dead will make my best-of, year-end horror movie list. Both are incredibly earnest, heart-warming films that do something unique with the zombie narrative. In this case, Lupita Nyong’o plays a preschool teacher who has to protect her class from the dead on a farm. Need I say more?

Ghost Stories (Directed by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman): This was one of my favorite horror films from last year, a three-story anthology with a wrap-around that deals with skepticism and the supernatural. Generally, this is for fans of slow-born horror, so if you like that, then check this out.

 

“Intro the Dark: Culture Shock” (Directed by Gigi Saul Guerrero). Hulu’s original series “Into the Dark” has far more misses than hits, but “Cultural Shock,” which debuted on July 4, is the exception. This is one of the strongest political works of horror from this year, following the story of a young Mexican woman who seeks the American dream and risks her life to reach the border. At a film festival Q and A, director Guerrero called the situation at the border “everyone’s horror story.” Pay attention to her because she’s a name in horror to watch.

 

Check out my Netflix recommendations here and my Shudder recommendations here.

Next up, I’ll offer my recommendations for Amazon Prime. Happy spooky streaming!

Fall Poetry Events

This week, I’m taking a brief pause from posting horror movie recommendations to share some upcoming poetry events that I’m partaking in with other writes. Check them out if you’re so inclined! One in particular is a special Halloween-themed reading.

Monday, October 21 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Lower Macnungie Library Coffee House

Reading and craft talk with Robb Fillman, David Bauman, Eric Chiles, and I.

Open mic to follow

Lower Macungie Library, 3450 Brookside Rd., Macungie, PA

Image may contain: 5 people, including David J. Bauman and Robb Fillman, beard and text

Tuesday, October 29 7-9 p.m.

Poems at the Pub

I will be the featured reader. An open mic will follow. Costumes are encouraged!

Dugan’s Pub, 385 Main Street, Luzerne, PA

Check out the FB event page for more details.

Saturday, November 16 7-9 p.m.

Writer’s Showcase at the Olde Brick Theater

I will be co-hosting this event with Dawn Leas. Featured readers include Dan Pape, Marcie Herman Riebe, Brianna Schunk, Chris Eibach, Tara Lynn Marta, and Robb Fillman.

126 W. Market Street, Scranton, PA

Time to Cue Up the Horror Flicks

Happy October! It’s that time of year when everyone is looking for that one good horror recommendation. First, let me state that if you want some solid suggestions, check out Horror Homeroom or Signal Horizon any day of the week for some of the best insight on contemporary horror.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll offer some suggestions for the major streaming networks. I will keep each list fairly short and try to offer recommendations beyond the usual mainstream fare. First up, I’m focusing on Shudder, the all-horror streaming network owned by AMC and also available through Amazon Prime.

Shudder

One Cut of the Dead (2019/Directed by Shinichiro Ueda) This Japanese flick is one of the most creative films available anywhere. Even offering too much of a description will give too much away. That said, it rewrites everything you think you know about the zombie narrative, and the closing minutes are one big kiss to independent film-making. It also begins with a 36-minute long continuous shot. Stream this now!

Tigers Are Not Afraid (2019/Directed by Issa Lopez) This Spanish film is beautiful, heartbreaking, and terrifying in its depiction of gang violence in Mexico. The child actors are simply phenomenal, and the fairy tale-like quality is reminiscent of early Guillermo del Toro. This is a must watch and will probably end up on several best-of lists at the end of the year.

Body Bags (1993/Directed by John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, Larry Sulkis) This is  a rare anthology featuring three separate stories loaded with celebrity cameos, including Sam Raimi, Wes Craven, Tom Arnold, and John Carpenter as a wise-cracking mortician. Shudder is most likely the only place you’ll be able to watch this, so check it out while you can. It’s a fun horror comedy perfect for this time of year.

Incident in a Ghostland (2018/Directed by Pascal Laugier) This French film by the director of Martyrs is imperfect, especially in its portrayal of trans people, which, in this case, happens to be a one-dimensional central villain. While Incident in a Ghostland may not be as haunting or horrific as Martyrs, it still has a lot to say about trauma and fractured memory. The plot is simple: a mother and her two daughters suffer a terrifying home invasion during the first night in their new home. That story-line, coupled with the visuals, make this a must-watch. Laugier is one of the most interesting directors working in the genre right now.

The Old Dark House (1932/Directed by James Whale) When it comes to Universal’s first golden age in the 1930s, The Old Dark House is sometimes lost in the conversation. Everyone talks about Dracula, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and the Universal Monsters in general, but this is one of my favorite films from that era. Whale’s direction here is stellar in creating a creaky old house that travelers stumble upon. Then, they encounter a family with dangerous secrets. There is plenty of subtext to unpack here, and as usual, Karloff is phenomenal. Between Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, Whale created another horror masterpiece.

Other contemporary films to stream: Satan’s Slaves, The Witch in the Window, Terrified (a must see, one of the best of 2018), The Taking of Deborah Logan (Odd, creepy, unsettling, unique for the found footage genre), Hell House, LCC.

Classics to stream: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Night of the Living Dead, Zombi, The Changeling, Deep Red, Hellraiser, Re-Animator, Phantasm, Henry, Black Christmas

TV shows to stream:

  • “Creepshow” Yes, the reboot is really that good! A new episode will air every Thursday through Halloween. Horror lovers shouldn’t miss this.
  • “Dead Wax” This is such a creative Shudder original about a record that kills people. Hopefully, it gets a second season.
  • “Channel Zero” This four-season series based on Creepy Pasta stories initially aired on the Syfy network  and was cancelled way too soon. The final season drops this month on Shudder.
  • “NOS4A2” A worthy adaptation of Joe Hill’s bestselling novel.

 

Up next, I’ll offer recommendations for HULU. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

Even MORE Halloween news

After it was announced recently that Halloween (2018) is getting not one, but TWO sequels, “Halloween Kills” and “Halloween Ends,” more news has been trickling out. We already know that Jamie Lee Curtis will reprise her iconic role as Laurie Strode. Now it’s been reported that the original Shape, Nick Castle, will  also return. Castle was in a brief scene in the last film, but an important one, the moment when Strode first sees Myers, thus confirming her worst fears that he’s still alive. Additionally, it’s been reported that James Jude Courtney will return as the Shape, most likely for the duration of both films. This is positive news, as fans seemed to have enjoyed his performance.

Image result for Halloween 2018, michael myers in window

Nick Castle playing the Shape again in Halloween 2018

Even more interesting are the rumblings that the character of Tommy Doyle will return for “Halloween Kills.” Doyle was the little boy that Strode babysat in the first film. He returned as an adult in Halloween 6, played by Paul Rudd, but since Halloween 2018 ignores all of the other films, other than the original, it’s best to forget that movie.

Related image

Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Tommy (Brian Andrews)

If Tommy Doyle is being written into the script, it raises a lot of questions.

  • How is this narrative actually going to work? Ignoring all of the sequels, and focusing on this timeline, it has to be acknowledged that Laurie and Tommy have not seen each other in over 40 years. How and why would they actually reconnect?
  • Will their meeting be organic? Let’s hope David Gordon Green and his screenwriting team don’t just thrust this character into the script for the sake of merely adding him and trying to please fans.
  • Will Tommy’s story focus on trauma? Halloween 2018 was about Laurie’s trauma and confronting/overcoming her past. Is it possible that a similar theme will be explored with Tommy’s character? How did that night in 1978 affect him?
  • Will Lindsey show up? Whatever happened to the other kid that Laurie babysat that same night, Lindsey, the one who had a crush on Tommy? Is she going to make an appearance?
  • Who will actually play Tommy? If the character is indeed part of the next chapter, who’s going to be cast? A few articles noted that Paul Rudd was approached but declined, due to a conflicting filming schedule.  We’ll have to wait and see.

Feel free to share your thoughts about the rumors that Tommy Doyle may in fact be part of the next Halloween sequel. How/why could it possibly work?

 

Some Questions Regarding Those Halloween Sequels

Image result for Halloween, 2018, michael myers

Since Blumhouse’s reboot of Halloween earned over $250 million at the box office last year, it’s no surprise that the production company is bringing Michael back to the big screen for not one but TWO sequels.It was announced last week that Halloween Kills will be released in 2020 and Halloween Ends will be released in 2021. Jamie Lee Curtis will reprise her role as Laurie Strode, and writers Danny McBride and David Gordon Green, who also directed Halloween 2018, are also returning.  John Carpenter is staying involved, too, most likely to score both films.

The world could always use a little more Michael Myers, but there are some serious questions to ponder in the meantime:

Related image

  • How is Michael still alive? Okay, okay, I know that Michael has survived many times before. Heck, at the end of the first film, he’s shot by Dr. Loomis before falling off of a balcony. Cue the famous end shot where he’s GONE. That said, Halloween 2018,  like the original, made Michael fairly human again. The last time we saw him, he was engulfed in flames in the Strode basement.

 

  • How does Michael reconnect with the Strodes? Like the original film, Halloween 2018 made it clear that Michael has no specific connection to Laurie. He is merely a ubiquitous presence and agent of evil. Laurie just happened to cross his path in 1978 and became an iconic Final Girl. The new film ignores all the sequels, especially Halloween II, that made them brother and sister. So in that regard, Michael really has no need to go after her or her daughter and granddaughter who featured prominently in the last film. It is possible and maybe likely that she hunts him, since that’s the role she assumed in the last film.

Image result for strode women halloween 2018

  • What role will the other Strode women play? We know Jamie Lee Curtis is coming back, but what about Judy Greer, who played Laurie’s daughter, Karen, and Andi Matichak who played granddaughter Allyson? These three together on screen, especially in the closing 20 minutes, were a real highlight of the last film and there is SO much untapped story potential there. The ending of the film was poignant in so many ways. It featured the ladies working together to defeat the boogeyman, but it also had an interesting and ambiguous ending, featuring the women riding in the back of a vehicle, blood-soaked, after defeating Michael, with Allyson clenching the butcher knife. The last shot is a nice reference to both The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween 4, but that’s for another day. Let’s hope all three ladies will be together again to kick ass.

 

  • Will the sequels resonate? Halloween 2018 is really Laurie Stode’s story and how she’s processed what happened to her 40 years earlier. The film is rooted in trauma. What happens to the Final Girl after all of her friends are dead? The last film hit at the right time during the #MeToo Movement and only a few short months after the powerful testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford during the tumultuous Kavanaugh hearings. Will the sequels also resonate? We’ll have to see. Sometimes, headlines make a film all the more powerful.

 

  • Who is going to play Michael/The Shape? The original Shape, Nick Castle, returned to the role just for a scene or two in 2018, but the Shape was mostly played by James Jude Courtney. No word yet on whether or not he’s returning.

 

Blumhouse is taking a risk launching two Halloween sequels, while also rebooting the Universal Monsters, with the first being an updated version of The Invisible Man. Halloween 2018 proved, however, that these iconic horror figures can still bring in the big bucks. Feel free to share your thoughts on the Halloween sequels and where you’d like the franchise to go from here.

 

 

 

Some Poetry for Halloween

Months ago, I announced that Moon Tide Press was putting out an anthology of poems inspired by horror films. Well, the anthology is out! It features 66 poets and has wicked cool cover art by Leslie White.

Dark Ink Cover Image.jpg

If you’re interested in ordering a copy, you can do so through Moon Tide’s website here, or through Amazon here.

I have three pieces in the anthology, and as a little preview, here is one of the poems:

Imagining One More Romero Movie

 

I’d like to see Romero’s take on this moment,

a time as uncanny as the dead rising,

groaning, and slow-walking towards a meal.

The elite already live in towers,

like in Land of the Dead.

The president has a tower in NYC,

barricaded by police in all-black riot gear,

like the beginning of a movie

where everything is about to go wrong.

The working-class hustle below,

their hands hard and calloused, their clothes

rife with the smell of gasoline, oil, or dirt.

Sometimes, they crane their necks, stare

at those towers, maybe to imagine a gold nameplate,

a desk, leather chair, and air-conditioned office.

 

If Romero directed one more sequel,

I wonder where he’d place the survivors.

Shopping malls are too 1980s, but maybe Starbucks,

staring at their smartphones, plugging in

before the dead bust down the doors,

rip out espresso machines, gnaw on flesh,

or maybe he’d have a horde overtake DC,

while a few remaining politicians and lobbyists

flee down K Street under a harvest moon,

until the working-class, turned, drop the gas pumps,

hammers, or call center headsets and devour the living, fed up

with slumping and staggering from job to job.

 

Happy Halloween!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween Trailer #2

With a little over a month until its release, David Gordon Green’s Halloween has a brand new trailer, featuring a hulking, brutal Michael Myers and a well-prepared Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis).
You can watch the new trailer by clicking here.
I first noticed the number of scenes that parallel scenes from the original film. For instance, in the first few seconds, we see that Michael Myers has returned to Haddonfield after escaping prison. He bumps into a trick-or-treater who is daunted by his size and shape, similar to the scene in the original Halloween when Tommy Doyle bumps into Michael and is taken aback. This happens early in the film, shortly after Michael escapes from the insane asylum and ends up in Haddonfield after stealing a car.
Another scene echoes a shot in the first film when Laurie Strode is babysitting and sees Michael standing in the yard behind sheets billowing on a laundry line. There is a similar scene in this new trailer, though it’s unclear whose house it is.
For the most part, this second trailer highlights Laurie Strode, specifically her ability to take charge. She screams at the costumed children and their parents to get off the streets and go home. In another scene, we see what I think is her house, fitted with flood lights and other high-wire alert systems. Clearly, she’s been planning for Michael’s return for decades. Additionally, the new trailer features Laurie’s voice-over. It’s probably safe to assume that the film will mostly focus on Laurie and Michael, as well as Laurie’s daughter and granddaughter. This is underscored by the new poster unveiled at the beginning of this month, featuring Michael and Laurie’s faces.
halloween-2018-poster-laurie-strode-michael-myers-1131805.jpeg
Finally, director David Gordon Green mentioned in this interview with Bloody Disgusting  that there is a continuous shot fairly early in the film that is supposed to be quite brutal. I am guessing that scene is featured in the trailer, after the costumed child bumps into Michael and the boogeyman then picks up a hammer and enters the houses of random neighbors for a killing spree. It’s in that same continuous shot that he trades the hammer for his trademark butcher knife.
Overall, the trailer has me even more excited for the film. If you have any comments or thoughts about the trailer, feel free to drop a line.